Day 100: New Delhi, India. We reached another milestone today – 100 days of Asian Rambles. The days are notching up, flying past and we’re having a lot of fun.
We had a late breakfast at the hotel again this morning. Lil’s starting to struggle a little with puris and chapatis and curries and pickles and curds for breakfast, and is craving a good old bowl of cornflakes with skimmed milk. Jim, meanwhile, reckons paratha and lime pickle is a far better breakfast option than boring old toast and marmalade. We agree to differ. 🙂
Around midday we headed out to catch an Uber to the National Railway Museum, about 8km south of the city. The museum captures India’s railway heritage dating back over 160 years. While stopped in traffic, we spotted a guy and his family pulling up in a tuk tuk to feed a large bag of chapatis to a bunch of monkeys by the roadside. While the chapatis probably rate pretty low on the monkeys’ daily nutritional needs, they seemed to be enjoying them far more than Lil does, when she gets served them for breakfast.
We reached the railway museum and joined the queue for tickets. We use the word queue lightly here, as it was more akin to a rugby scrum. For the next 15 minutes we got forcibly pushed and shoved forward and sideways (and occasionally backwards as more people queue jumped in front), and at one point Lil said she felt her feet leave the ground. A scrap broke out between a guy behind us and another guy who was trying to push his way in. Lil turned around and applied her best Paddington stare at the pair of them, and when they’d finished screaming at each other, got an apology from the non-queue jumping guy behind us.
Queue dramas aside, the museum was excellent. The indoor exhibition presents the history of Indian railways, with lots of train models and interactive displays of signalling equipment (Jim got to play being a signal master for a minute before he got pushed aside by a bossy kid), telecommunications systems, builder plates from local and overseas companies and antique railway furniture.
However the real highlight of the museum is the large impressive collection of original steam, diesel and electric locomotives in the railway yard outside. Many of the engines were built overseas in the UK, Germany, USA and Japan, and some of them ran in continuous service for nearly 100 years.
There were signs everywhere saying ‘no climbing on the exhibits – fine Rs500’, which had minimal effect – we seemed to be the only two people who weren’t climbing and crawling all over the trains to pose for pics and snap selfies.
After we’d had our fill of train spotting, we caught an Uber to India Gate in the city, to check out the monument and have a walk around the surrounding grounds. As we got out of the car, a tropical rainstorm hit and we got totally and utterly soaked. There were no canopies or trees left to hide under, so we walked around in the rain, watching kids and adults messing around in the puddles and lakes that were quickly forming.
Soaked to the skin, we headed off and walked down a tree lined avenue to a cafe we spotted on Google Maps, however it was closed and there was a large pack of dogs milling about on the pavement outside which weren’t overly friendly, so we jumped in yet another Uber and headed for dinner at Moti Mahal – another long standing Delhi restaurant. Moti Mahal was established in 1947 and was the first restaurant to introduce tandoori cuisine in India. The restaurant went on to invent butter chicken and dal makhan, a hearty dish of black lentils, kidney beans, butter and cream.
The interior of the restaurant is pretty bland, with baby pink walls, a large central display of artificial plants, beaten up furniture and rattling fans that look like they have been in service since the restaurant opened. It’s real draw is its food though, having attracted big names locally and abroad including Indira Ghandi, the Shah of Iran, Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy. Gordon Ramsay visited a few years back and spent time behind the scenes in the kitchen, claiming it was his most memorable meal in Delhi, and the butter chicken was unlike any he’d tasted. The food was good, but personally we thought Karim’s (which we visited yesterday) was streets ahead on food quality and taste.
After dinner we stopped for a quick beer at MRP cafe in Connaught Place (still leaving puddles of rain water behind us), then headed home to dry out and get a long night’s sleep. It was a dreary grey evening, and local kids were still splashing about in the rain falling from roofs as we waited for our Uber to arrive.
Tomorrow we’re planning to do something, we’re just not sure what yet. Doubtless it will involve another bunch of Uber rides, and perhaps Lil will find some monkeys to give her breakfast chapatis to.